Ku86 is essential in human somatic cells

Gang Li, Caron Nelsen, Eric A Hendrickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Ku86 plays a key role in nonhomologous end joining in mammals. Functional inactivation in rodents of either Ku86 or Ku70, which form the heterodimeric DNA end-binding subunit of the DNA-dependent protein kinase complex, is nevertheless compatible with viability. In contrast, no human patient has been described with mutations in either Ku86 or Ku70. This has led to the hypotheses that either these genes are performing an additional essential role(s) and/or redundant pathways exist that mask the phenotypic expression of these genes when they are mutated in humans. To address this issue, we describe here the construction of human somatic cell lines containing a targeted disruption of the Ku86 locus. Human HCT116 colon cancer cells heterozygous for Ku86 were haploinsufficient with an increase in polyploid cells, a reduction in cell proliferation, elevated p53 levels, and a slight hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation. Functional inactivation of the second Ku86 allele resulted in cells with a drastically reduced doubling time. These cells were capable of undergoing only a limited number of cell divisions, after which they underwent apoptosis. These experiments demonstrate that the Ku86 locus is essential in human somatic tissue culture cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-837
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 22 2002


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